Netflix to raise $2 billion in debt to fund more content spending

For the second time this year, Netflix is offering $2 billion in debt to fund its investment in content, including original programming, content acquisitions, investments and more. The news was announced on Monday morning, and was followed by a slight dip in Netflix’s stock price.

The decision to increase its investment in content production follows Netflix’s well-received earnings beat last week, when it reported revenues of $5.24 billion versus the $5.25 billion expected, and EPS of $1.47 versus the $1.07 expected. Despite missing on subscriber numbers in Q3, Netflix’s stock quickly surged on the news.

However, the streaming service is not out of the woods just yet. It will soon face significant competition — especially among families with children — when Disney+ launches next month. Apple is also poised to launch Apple TV+, NBCU is bringing us Peacock, AT&T’s TimeWarner is debuting HBO Max and Jeffrey Katzenberg is launching a mobile-only service called Quibi with big-name talent attached.

On their own, each of the new services wouldn’t be likely to unseat Netflix as a top streamer. But combined, they can chip away at Netflix’s user base if consumers decide to ditch and switch, instead of adding on yet another subscription.

On Netflix’s Q3 earnings call, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even admitted that Disney is going to be “a great competitor.” However, he pointed out that all of the services — including Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Prime –have been competing more with linear TV than with each other.

That said, Netflix still needs to up its content game to keep customers subscribed. And that can be expensive.

“We don’t shy away from taking bold swings if we think the business impact will also be amazing. We don’t close every deal we chase and we don’t chase every deal on the table,” said Hastings, in Netflix’s Q3 letter to shareholders. He added that while not all Netflix’s projects work out, the large and growing subscriber base lets it experiment. And the size of its content budget — $10 billion on P&L spend and $15 billion in cash content spend — helps Netflix from getting too dependent on any single hit show.

The company also said its growing revenue base and expanding margins would allow it to fund more content spending internally, with cash flow freeing up further in 2020 and beyond.

In the meantime, however, Netflix is taking on debt.

In today’s announcement, Netflix says it intends to use the net proceeds from this offering “for general corporate purposes, which may include content acquisitions, production and development, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.”